As you may or may not know, part of my Scientesses project is hosting workshops at my local library to get girls excited about STEM careers. We had our first workshop on Monday, September 19. Eight girls attended and I think more are going to sign up for the next one.
Each workshop is centered around a specific area of STEM. For the first one, I chose the field of genetics. Originally, I planned to do materials science for the first workshop, but after realizing I needed over a dozen egg shells I decided I did not have enough time to eat that many scrambled eggs. Instead, I figured that genetics was the perfect introductory workshop because the girls would learn about genetics and the different characteristics of each other.
I was surprised that many of the attendees enjoyed the two activities we did, especially the first one. To me, the activities were not as exciting as others I have planned, but the girls did not seem to mind.
After some introductions, I briefly explained dominant and recessive traits and then gave the girls a list of physical traits. I had them write down if they had a particular trait or not. We went through hair color and hair type, eye color, face shape, freckles, dimples, attached earlobes, and if their eyebrows were connected. After writing all their traits down, the girls compared their characteristics with those of the other girls sitting at the table. I then took a survey to see what traits were most dominant in the group.
Once we finished the traits activity, I read the girls a story from Arizona State University about monsters and their DNA (link below). This allowed me to segue into the monster building session. Using worksheets from ASU, the girls had to decode descriptions of a monster and then draw the creature. It took longer than I expected, and some of the girls got frustrated, but I would still highly recommend the activity because it demonstrates how different DNA sequences affects traits.
At the end of the workshop, I read a story from the book I have called “Women in Science.” It is a really interesting and cute book that tells the tales of various women scientists. To go along with the genetics theme, I read about Barbara McClintock, a cytogeneticist who won a Nobel Prize in Physiology and Medicine. I think everyone was very impressed with Barbara’s work.
Overall, I believe the class went well and I am very excited to see how they react to the next workshop, forensics!
Check out my blog post about Barbara: https://scientesses.wordpress.com/2016/09/24/scientist-spotlight-barbara-mcclintock/
Monster DNA from Arizona State University: https://askabiologist.asu.edu/body-depot/monster-manual_teachers